Christ… I can’t believe I’m tackling this one. Metal is such a subjective term and it’s hard to specifically define it. There are also several sub genres of Metal… some more insane than others.
So let’s think about this for a moment… what is the makeup of a metal band? A self-proclaimed Metal Purist friend of mine says that the basic metal band is 2 guitarists, a singer, a bassist, and a set of drums.
Thus he considers bands like Five Finger Death Punch:
Or Killswitch Engage:
To be the quintessential makeup of Metal bands…
Bullshit. While they definitely fall under the metal category, I don’t believe that this is the basic standard for metal bands.
So what is?
Well it all started in the late 60s and 70s. Deep Purple is considered by many to be the first metal band with Black Sabbath and Led Zepplin following close behind. Those bands are/were made up the following way:
Now are these bands considered Metal? Eh… by people who have been with the genre that long, perhaps. Honestly, given the sound of their early work, I think the term proto-metal is more appropriate.
Proto-Metal had a few more names join in the 1970s, including Iron Butterfly, Steppinwolf (Yeah you heard me right), Blue Cheer, and the Stooges. Notice why I’m careful to label these as proto-metal. Alice Cooper would also be added to this mix, however despite starting in 1963, he really didn’t become part of what’s known as metal for many years and did not gain significant enough attention until the 70s.
It was around this time in the 1970s that punk rock began to explode into popular culture and soon became a huge phenomenon. Motorhead was really the first band to bridge the gap and metal… essentially piggybacked off of Punk Rock’s popularity to pull it into the mainstream. This is when metal was truly born. Bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon became household names with other bands such as the scorpions quickly followed.
Suddenly, Metal was in the mainstream and a new genre known as ‘glam metal’ and ‘hair metal’ came to center stage. This is where bands like Quiet Riot, Motley Crew, Guns n Roses, W.A.S.P. and others joined the mix. Even Van Halen is considered by some to be part of this genre. This was also the era of the British Heavy Metal invasion with bands like Judas Priest entering the fray. Yeah the 80s were a good time to be alive if you were in to that kind of music… but all good things have to end…
Anyone who was caught growing up between the 80s and the 90s knows the massive paradigm shift in music styles. It was swift, vicious… and it was NOT pretty.
Ugh… turn it off… turn it off… I SAID TURN IT THE (CENSORED) OFF!!!
Yeah thus begin the boy band wars of the 90s. It was a time when alternate and… arguably perverse styles of R&B, Dance, and techno got mixed together in what most people generally refer to as ‘Pop Music.’ It wasn’t a new phenomenon per se as it owed its roots to the 1970s, but it wasn’t anywhere near as huge or… intrusive at that point.
This is when metal went nuts. I mean went completely insane!
Suddenly Heavy Metal, Glam Metal, and Hair Metal broke up into SEVERAL subgenres…
Rap Metal (Yes that’s a thing)
Avante Garde Metal
and perhaps the most recognizable version… at least to people outside of the genre, Death Metal:
So with all of these genres… what does this mean?
Well it means that while this is metal:
So is this…
And yes, even this…
So what about this???
Um… I’ll leave that open to interpretation… Acapella Metal? Who knows…
But Jim, you still haven’t answered the big question, what is the basic metal band?
It’s a subjective term honestly. I do not share my friend’s view… why? Because that’s not the layout of the Heavy Metal bands, nor of the 80s bands and honestly the 70s and 80s are where metal really evolved into what we know and love. So with that in mind, the ideal metal band is as follows:
So then Jim, what is metal?
Honestly, it’s a convoluted mess!!! Just don’t let anyone tell you that only death metal is true metal and you’ll be fine.
So how do you identify a metal band then???
… … I dunno.
I don’t know! Honestly, does it really matter? Listen to what you like. If you really need to know though, I’d consult the Encyclopedia Metallum. It’s the best resource I know of…
Let me know what you think in the comments.
Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.
I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.
You can also add me on Twitter!
Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:
Catch you on the flip side!